Robert J. Caldwell of Kansas City, MO graduated from MIT as a member of the Class of 1936 with an SM in Electrical Engineering and as an ROTC Officer in the US Army. Following study at the University of Chicago from 1931 to 1933, Caldwell entered MIT as a sophomore in the fall of 1933. On June 7, Bob Caldwell turns 100! [Photos of Robert Caldwell as VI-A student at MIT and recent portrait in Naples, FL. Photo below of Bob Caldwell with wife Sara in 1943.]
Robert Caldwell gained professional training through the Electrical Engineering Department’s VI-A Cooperative Program, which was started in 1917 and is now known as the VI-A MEng Thesis Program. In applying for the VI-A Cooperative Program, Caldwell expressed interest in both design and construction of powerhouses, dams, and sub-stations, with a preference to remain in the electrical industry. Indicating a strong desire for ‘activity’ particularly traveling, he completed his application letter saying, “Work involving an indefinite amount of tedious calculation on specific problems does not interest me.” Caldwell’s VI-A experience included work at General Electric in Schenectady, NY. He continued work at General Electric, eventually in Philadelphia, for several years following graduation. In 1941, he and Sara Cline of Chattanooga, TN were married.
Robert Caldwell served as a Second Lieutenant in the Signal Corps Reserve of the US Army in 1941 prior to Pearl Harbor. During this time he fulfilled several assignments throughout the US and then at the Japanese Language School in Monterey, CA, in the Philippines and eventually in Japan. He returned home to Reserve Duty as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1946.
Released from active service, Robert Caldwell rejoined General Electric Company in Atlanta, GA. Still desiring to be in New England, however, Caldwell joined a few of his MIT classmates to form High Voltage Engineering Company in Cambridge, MA. He settled with his family in Sudbury, MA, where he remained for over 50 years.
In 1954 Robert Caldwell had the opportunity to purchase a small paint and building materials manufacturer – also located in Cambridge (quite near the MIT campus). Although this pulled him away from his electrical engineering roots, Caldwell built the company, now known as California Products Corporation. Under his leadership, the company grew into a major manufacturer of paints and athletic surfaces – from $1mil in annual sales to over $50 million when he retired at age 75. The California Products Corporation still prospers today in Andover, MA.
Bob Caldwell left Sudbury on his retirement and has lived in Naples Florida since. Wishing EECS Alumnus Robert Caldwell happy 100th! If you wish to send Bob a greeting, please send it to his son Captain Bert Caldwell. (CapCol at aol.com)